Williams Syndrome is a neurological condition affecting chromosome 7. Some part of the chromosome is deleted, and this can vary among children. However, we do find that most children with Williams Syndrome present in a similar way, with very comparable gross motor skills. That can’t be said for their personality though, which is always very different! Most children we see with Williams Syndrome have low muscle tone and some core weakness, and usually are mildly delayed in their physical skills. They are usually very determined, and smile at almost everything!
In Williams Syndrome, the muscles themselves are not affected, just the messages that travel to them. This means, that children are perfectly capable of strengthening their muscles. Sometimes kids with Williams Syndrome have altered posture due to a weak core. This might be knees that bend back a little too far, flat feet, outwards facing feet, a belly that sticks out and a spine that curves in, or rounded shoulders and a bit of slumping. We can help with all of these by strengthening muscles, and providing excellent footwear recommendations, or working closely with orthotists when needed.
How can physiotherapy help?
Gross motor skills
When younger infants and babies are first referred, they can be somewhat delayed in gross motor skills. We find this is more to do with reduced body awareness and motor planning, rather than an inability or weakness. Therefore we use our magic hands, make activities fun, and get them moving asap! And we find that kids with Williams Syndrome make huge improvements very fast.
Fun strengthening exercises are provided to help with things like posture, trips and falls, and general weakness from certain positions. We make them fun and motivating, and easy to follow at home in between sessions!
Occasionally, children with Williams Syndrome walk significantly later than their peers. This causes their hips to be at a higher risk of subluxation (coming out of the socket) than otherwise. We can screen for this and will provide a programme full of active and assisted weight-bearing, the most evidence-based way to maintain healthy hips. We may also recommend onward referrals or x-rays if we think this is relevant.
Contact us to find out how we can help!